Tom Westbury • Southampton
Please introduce yourself: what’s your name, where are you from, what do you do?
Hello, I’m Tom Westbury, UK-based photographer, currently living in Southampton on the south coast of England. To pay for my film I work for the National Health Service (NHS) in the communications department by day!
What is your relationship with photography? How did you get into it & and what keeps you interested/ motivated?
Well, I actually got into photography through the aforementioned day-job. When I first joined the NHS (in 2009 – I was 27) my job involved some photography (corporate events, portraiture etc) as I was responsible for producing communications materials such as posters, brochures, leaflets and online. I hadn’t really taken photography very seriously before that time but decided to learn how to use the department’s camera – a basic Nikon DSLR. I quickly became hooked and things have evolved from there.
Two important milestones for me over the years have been starting to shoot film and the discovery of the work of the New Topographics photographers. Film changed the way I shoot and approach photography, and the New Topographics changed the way I see the everyday world.
Now, I would say that my relationship with photography is really more about my relationship with the world around me. The camera is just the tool to frame and compose the world and separate slices of it. Photography has the uncanny power to represent reality with incredible veracity but, at the same time, to be very subjective and selective. Photographs can be seen simultaneously as documents of the ‘real world’ and something altogether more surreal. This tension is what makes photography so fascinating for me and is what drives me to keep at it!
What are you currently working on, and – if there is – what is your next project/ journey?
I’m currently sifting through my work from the last few years looking for emerging themes. I don’t really work on pre-defined projects – although I wish I could -, so the process of selecting work is something I end up doing retrospectively. Things are gradually starting to coalesce into series and my hope is to publish one or more of these as a book at some point. Otherwise, my only goal is to keep looking, learning, and shooting.